The seafood ingredients and the peas were all frozen. And though fresh seafood would have been even better (definitely!), we can’ t always be sniffy about frozen foods. The squid came from the Mediterranean and the prawns were from Argentina. I let them get to room temperature in water and rinsed and rinsed the prawns and then rinsed them again, because I wanted to use their carapace to make a fish stock. I also removed the intestine (the long black string thing) from each prawn.
IN PREPARATION FOR THE RISOTTO
I started by making a vegetable stock : an onion, a carrot, celery (leaves included this time) and some parsley stems. I was in a bit of a hurry so I left some of the leaves on the stem. I was not in perfectionist mode that day.
Let it simmer …. Measure how much rice you want (this was for 4 people and I seem to remember using 400g of Carnaroli rice). I also got half a cup of white wine ready. I chopped an onion and began to sauté it on a fairly low heat in a frying pan. Once cooked (do not allow the onion to brown!), set aside. It might take 10 minutes to cook.
PREPPING THE SEAFOOD
Here is the squid. Here are the peas, the squid that I had cut up into chunks, and a few prawns in the background. The shells have been removed from the prawns. The other ingredients are: 2 cloves of garlic, some parsely and some chilli. And, last, a little bit of lemon zest.
MAKING A PSEUDO-BISQUE
Drizzle some olive oil into a fairly large frying pan and turn the heat on.
Place the shells of the prawns onto the hot oil and let them sizzle for a minute or two. Their colour changes within seconds of cooking. Add one ladleful of the stock that has been simmering in the background, and switch off heat … You will need just enough to be able to scrape all the fishy bits that began to stick to the frying pan. Transfer the prawn shells and all the juices to the vegetable stock … Add the lemon zest. Keep simmering. And here is your pseudo bisque, done! What WAS a vegetable stock has now how a little taste of the sea in it.
In preparation for when you will want to pour ladles of bisque/stock onto the rice to make the risotto … arm yourself with a colander to make things easier for yourself. When you pour the stock onto the rice, the vegetables and prawn shells will be trapped in the colander.
RISOTTO TIME ….
A little bit of olive oil …. Toast the rice in the olive oil on a fairly high heat, for about 2-3 minutes or however long it takes for the rice to change to pearly white. Careful though: a few seconds more and you will have burnt rice! Yes, and do stir at this point. Add the wine and let it evaporate. The bisque/stock is on the right, waiting to be used and is HOT. Start by pouring one ladleful of the bisque/stock … stir … and let the rice absorb it all. Repeat twice. Then add a lot more stock all at once … don’t worry, no one will die and the risotto will be perferctly edible. Add the previously cooked onions …. stir so that they blend in.And now just keep an eye on the risotto, stirring only now and then, adding more stock when required. A risotto takes between 18-20 minutes to cook.
While the risotto is cooking … Sauté the garlic and the chilli in a little olive oil, on quite a high heat. Add the squid first, and a minute or two later, the prawns. Sprinkle with salt. Set aside, keeping it all warm.
Add the peas about 4 minutes before end-of-cooking time and stir them in. Add some freshly minced parsely to the seafood. And assembly and blend everything at the very last minute. Taste and add a little more salt if necessry. There is no parmesan or even butter in this risotto. It’s not a “creamy” kind of risotto, if you know what I mean. And here it is, dished out on a serving plate.The prawns are placed on top for all to behold. Some tomatoes and more parsely for colour and a drizzle of olive oil for completion.
It may look like a lot of trouble … but it is actually very easy to prepare … and was very nice to eat too!